Depression is a very debilitating condition, which continues to plague the lives of many. It is a very complex condition, and requires a multi-faceted approach to treatment.

In general, recovery is certainly a possibility, and in many cases will be attained. However, this isn’t always possible. We take a look at the prognosis of Depression.

With the right approach, Depression can be successfully treated

What is Depression?

Depression is a serious illness which can have a profound impact on the day-to-day life of someone who suffers from the illness. While the majority of people go through periods of feeling down or unhappy, those who are depressed feel persistently sad or have a low mood for weeks, or perhaps even months. Depression can make life appear pointless, and often leads to suicidal ideation. Depression is a common mental illness, and is usually classed as either mild, moderate or severe. Clinical Depression is the most common form, though there are a range of types, including Postpartum depression and Seasonal Affective depression. The good news is that unlike many mental health conditions, with the right treatment, support and lifestyle, many people with depression will gain full remission.

The impact of different types of Depression

It is important to state at first that the prognosis for each different type of Depression can vary. For instance, Dysthymia (also known as Persistent Depressive Disorder) tends to not have as high remission rate as Postpartum Depression. But in any case, depression can, in some cases, last for several years.

The most common type of Depression is Clinical Depression (also known as Major Depressive Disorder). This form of depression is characterised by episodes of major depression. Sometimes, these episodes can resolve themselves – but this will often take some time. This holds true for all cases of depression – they can clear up by themselves.

Importance of effective treatment

Accessing effective treatment is crucial. Antidepressants can provide relief and lessen some of the symptoms of Depression. There are several different classes of antidepressants to try, in the case that there is a lack of response at first.

Talking therapy can be very helpful. For example, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has proven very effective. But if Depression is linked more to past traumas, then a therapy like Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy will often prove more helpful. Therapy and medication should be supplemented by regular exercise and a healthy diet. This combination will often lead to remission.

It is common for antidepressants – the primary medication for Depression – to be taken for around 6 months after the cessation of symptoms. This in theory prevents the chance of relapse. In cases where Depression has been long-lasting, this period may be extended to 12 months. In some cases, antidepressants may need to be taken indefinitely – often for the rest of a patient’s life.

Concerns of treatment

Some bad news is that depressive episodes are seldom a one-off occurrence. One study concluded that out of those encountering a maiden major depressive episode, 80% of them will have at least one other in their lifetime [1]. But in a positive outlook – this still does mean that 1 in 5 will not experience depression after a first episode.

As alluded to above, sometimes depression is a life-long disorder. Those who receive inappropriate treatment, experience symptoms from a young age, multiple episodes and little recovery after the first year’s treatment, are the most vulnerable to having to cope with depression for life.

Unfortunately, Depression is often associated with suicide. Self-harm and suicidal ideation are common with depression, and may lead to the act of suicide being contemplated. This contributes to a shorter life expectancy for those diagnosed with depression [2]. This risk multiplies in cases where depression runs concomitantly with conditions like Borderline Personality Disorder.


Overall, there are several statistics that suggest Depression may last for life. But there is also positive news – in many cases, recovery is possible.

Those who access treatment early stand the best chance of success, and will often go on to recover. Given the potential damage that Depression can cause, accessing treatment is of imperative importance.

See Also


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If you are struggling with your mental health, help is available. With the right support and treatment, you can make a recovery. For information on helplines, or if you are in a state of crisis, please visit our crisis page by clicking on the relevant link for your geographical location (United Kingdom), (United States), (International). You can also see how to get mental health treatment and the process involved by clicking this link.


[1]          Fava, G. A., Park, S. K., & Sonino, N. (2006). Treatment of recurrent depression. Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics. 6 (11): p1735–1740.

[2]        Cassano P., & Fava, M. (2002). Depression and public health: an overview. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 53 (4): p849–857.